Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Credit Data Squaliforme Experian Objects!

Whaaaaaaaaaa. Whaaaaaaa. Whaaaaaaa.

Can you hear the whining? All the way from Vermont!

Squaliforme data broker Experian is all broken up about an Attorney General using the all-too-kindly label of "data broker" in describing them.

Julie Brill, assistant AG up there in Vermont said in testimony that "data brokers" needed more regulation (which we heartily endorse). But Squaliforme cheerleader Tony Hadley (VP of propaganda, er, "Government Affairs," for one of the biggest Squaliforme data manglers) objected.

Order! Order! Pardon this Court while the laughter dies down.

She was much too kind, Tony.

Here 'bouts we call 'em as we see 'em, and you can put lipstick on that pig all you want, but folks aren't convinced.

Your company is profiteering at the expense of consumers, Tony. Be glad someone at the AG level isn't telling it like it really is.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

More fun and games with Seisint & the Federal Snoops

Want a quick, low cost credit and background records check on someone? Apparently somebody does - or at least they're being told they do.

Want to see how Kurt Sanford (LexisNexis CEO) lies about what information Seisant has, sells and in particular, shares about people? You know, the part about the security breach where he claims credit information wasn't accessed in the now-infamous leak that was supposedly just a little one, then the truth came out. (See the March archives.)

Well, sure enough, there's a trade organization for just about every business in this great country. And what do you know, there's even an association of "self-storage" rental places, known as the "Self Storage Association." They've been around a long time; 30 years, according to their web site, and they represent some 2,750 companies with nearly 47,000 properties.

And wouldn't you know it, Seisint (the home to the MATRIX scheme) has set up a really slick, low-cost credit and background check service for these folks. It's one of those "member benefits" that they call an "id verification program" on their web site. No mention of the credit score part. No mention of the bankruptcy check they can run on existing tenants or the notification they can get if you move or file for bankruptcy. No mention of the criminal background check, either.

Now this Court understands why a storage landlord needs this information. After all, you don't want to have some low-life stashing stuff in your property, right? So your going to take the word of a computer system in Florida that is broadly contaminated with bogus information from undefined sources and mixed in with an equally-faulty credit score.

With a clever marketing scheme and a catchy name that bespeaks the protection of the country in this time of terrorist threats (ssacountermeasures), Seisint tugs at the hearts (and a little at the wallets) of storage rental landlords by asking them what it's worth, "Knowing you're doing everything in your power to help fight international terrorism right here at home." Wow, don't we all feel better.

But what no one seems to realize is that Seisint is offering this service on their custom-made and supported (just for SSA) web site at BELOW COST. $7.95 per hit for the credit-included snooping and $4.95 if no credit information is wanted. (But golly, Kurt, you said there weren't credit records available?!?)

But a better question, Kurt - why so cheap? Simple - because Seisint allows law enforcement and skip-tracing and collections companies to snoop around in people's personal business (and with this new offering, where they keep things) for, of course, a profit.

It's not what you might have in the storage space - although one has to wonder how long before that "feature" is added; if you are a tenant (or even apply to be one), you're now on Seisint's national list of suspects (or should we say "persons of interest?") because you have a storage rental unit if the landlord SSA member signs up for the service and checks on you.

And - you may not even know they checked you out. They can do it right at the desk before hand, or they can check you out later.

Not 'round here. On this side of the Pecos, citizens are hereby advised to find another place to stash their junk if the landlord starts acting inquisitive. Better yet, if you see the SSA logo on the door, ask if they use the privacy invasion system BEFORE you give them your name.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Smell of the Lembo case is starting to spread.

Much as this Court predicted on the 15th of this month, the banks involved in the Orazio Lembo scheme are being forced to admit the disaster is far bigger than they wanted everyone to think.

Now word has leaked that there are at least forty law firms and collection Squaliformes on the list of willing participants that have been found thus far.

Stand by for them to play deaf, dumb and blind while they try to pin the whole thing on Lembo.

And don't count on the news media to go after and expose the lawyers who are actually behind the scheme (and have been for years). No telling how much credit/financial damage could be done to a reporter (or blogger) who outs these Squaliformes.

One other prediction: The industry lap-dogs at the FTC will tsk-tsk and make a lot of noise but won't put a single one of the firms out of business.

If they appear in this court, they'd be strung up after their assets had been liquidated and the proceeds distributed to the victims.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Clever These Squaliformes Become They Do!

[Nods to Yoda - The movie was great!]

You folks in Irvine California ought to keep an eye out for one Mr. Darren Charest, president of US Tracers.

This low-life offers his fellow Squaliformes (the Collectoris variety in particular) all kinds of handy information – including a database of unlisted phone numbers.

WARNING: If you get a “free,” unsolicited calling card, or anyone you know gets one, DON’T USE IT!

From their web site:

"The key to the Calling Cards are their ability to locate skips or develop leads by:

- Tracing the "From Numbers" (Incoming Calls) where the cards are used
- Determine called "To Numbers" (Outgoing Numbers) that calls are placed to

Our Calling Cards were developed to pin down mobile skips that utilize various techniques to avoid being located. Calling Cards are in use to overcome the following common skip techniques (by no means complete):

- using mail drops and/or General Delivery addresses
- cohabitating with 3rd parties (girlfriends/boyfriends, spouses, relatives, friends, etc.).
- communicating using only cellular phones, payphones, or pagers
- communicating only through 3rd parties who are uncooperative
- falsifying social security numbers to avoid detection
- moving repeatedly
- living overseas

Cards are delivered in attractive packaging encouraging skips and/or their associates to use them. As the cards are used, critical location information is reported to the customer on a regular basis. Many unsolved cases can be brought to a close with minimal effort and expense."

REPEAT WARNING: If you get a “free,” unsolicited calling card, or anyone you know gets one, DON’T USE IT!

Have a little fun at their expense; leave the card at a payphone at an airport.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Minnesota Bench Blunder

Lordy it must be the long winters up there.

In Minnesota at least, the auto dealerships can mark-up the interest rates on loans and don't have to tell the customer when they do it.

So "Truth In Lending" doesn't have to be the truth and jacking up interest rates on car loans without telling people is OK in Minnesota.

According to Judge Randolph Peterson of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the 4.75% markup Walser Automotive Group tacked on to a 15% Ford Motor Credit loan was not material to the loan.


Y'all up there know you elect these bufoons, right?

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dumbest Squaliforme of the Month Award

This Court has come across what has to be the dumbest Squaliforme legal case in history.

A Bear Stearns subsidiary, EMC Mortgage, of Irving, Texas (on the other side of the Pecos, thank you), has been dragging one Robert John Wright through various courts up yonder in Dallas for EIGHT YEARS. The source posting on a web site for Elliot Spitzer (don’t ask why – it’s politics) says 3,000 days. A quick look around elsewhere tells me at least part of this case went all the way up to the US Supreme Court (and they weren’t interested) but that was with Bank of America a few years back. Even a quick read and I'm pretty damn sure they're connected.

Now, I’m not sure about what the average property up there is worth, but let’s say Mr. Wright’s house is above the national average and is worth a quarter-million.

EIGHT YEARS of litigation and they still haven’t won? To go after a property for EIGHT YEARS that MIGHT get them a house worth a quarter-million if they do win?

According to the post, Wright’s apparently penniless now so they’re not going to get their attorney fees or costs even if they win. (I’ll bet a good bottle of whiskey and a box of 12Ga. Shells they’re not accepting his payments even if he could make them.)

Now, I know up there they pay barristers pretty damn well (it’s always big $ in Big D), so simple math says EIGHT YEARS of litigation they’re into it well over a half-million just in lawyers and they’re not taking in anything from him. If Wright’s still actually in the house this story could be scripted as “The Three Stooges Play Lawyer.”

Sure ‘nuff, this EMC Squaliforme is the same outfit that’ll be paying $6 MILLION+interest to a Missouri couple (the now-infamous Starks case) and then they got their hands slapped with a $10K censure from a bankruptcy Judge just a few months ago.

Given their parent company’s historically dismal ethical performance and massive financial penalties, this Court can only assume they sent the guys responsible that weren’t already jailed for their previous dimwitted scams down to do pennance in the wastelands of Irving.

Either they haven’t got a case against him and just don’t want to admit it, or they’ve got something to hide, or they’re still dumber than a box of rocks. Probably all three.

If Wright can get his case moved to this side of the Pecos, we’ll have this thing wrapped up in under an hour. Save everybody a lot of time and money. Knowing who they are and what they do, EMC best bring cash, and lots of it. We don't accept checks from Squaliformes.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

[(Note from the clerk of the Court: His Honor didn’t mention it but he doesn’t hang people for stupidity very often. Attempts to correct the condition are made utilizing the cattle prod.)]

Monday, May 16, 2005

It's not just the big three you need to know about

As this court has pointed out more than a few times, while Creditoris Squaliformes and the sleeping-watch-dog regulators routinely blab on and on about how YOU are responsible for knowing what's in YOUR credit report and getting it fixed, they know full well other information about you is being gathered and is floating around out there. And they also don't like to admit you aren't made aware it's being collected and sold, nor do you know if and when it's used or even how to correct it when the errors and even concocted misinformation about you is collected. It's a bit too simple - if they don't have to admit they have it, they don't have to admit they use it.

In fact, in today's climate of deliberately induced fear about terrorists, the regulators and businesses who want to do so-called "background checks," would rather not have anyone know these companies are playing fast-and-loose with information about you. Government and the Squaliformes are thrilled to be able to scratch each other's backs, er, make that dorsal fins, while individual privacy is invaded willy-nilly.

Another Squaliforme has been uncovered and joins the Hall of Shame this week:

Operating under the guise of "Merlin Information Systems," Mike and Jordonna Dores have been playing private detective and gathering and selling information about people from their offices in tiny Kalispell, Montana for over 10 years now.

Recently, US Postal Service inspectors made them aware that a customer of their's wasn't exactly on the up and up. Just as with the ChoicePoint snafu, the person who wanted the information and was willing to pay for it set up what appeared to be a legitimate account. He then obtained the information on nearly 9,000 unaware victims of this decade-long covert and blatant privacy abuse.

Gosh, and aw shucks, Mike. Like it hasn't happened before or won't happen again? Up that close to the Canadian border you figure you've been eyeball to eyeball with all your "customers?" Not likely.

According to a small article in the Missoula, Montana paper:

"We, of course, immediately apologized," [Jordonna] Dores said, and the company fired off a letter this week to those whose personal records were shared. The company also offered those affected a year's worth of credit monitoring at no cost, and bought a $50,000 identity theft insurance policy for each of the 8,998 people."

Wow, so those you think had their records shared get a year's worth of credit monitoring and some insurance coverage for identity theft purposes.

Gosh, and aw shucks, Jordonna. That might be useful if the crook was using the information for that purpose. Highly unlikely, and the story isn't over yet because the crook hasn't been apprehended so we have no idea what he was doing with it or who he passed it on to.

More likely, the crook is yet another information reseller wannabe who can make money by collecting and selling supposedly private information to companies wanting to have plausible-deniability in obtaining and using such crap in "not hiring" decisions, or Squaliformes and attorneys who don't want to have to live with even the miniscule protections we're supposed to have.

And how many more "Merlin Information Systems" snoops are out there? We'll never know. Anyone with (or even without) a detective's license who can hire some techies and buy information for resale can do this and you'll never know.

So, for those folks on that side of the Pecos, the next time you apply for a job or insurance coverage, you might want to reconsider signing that waiver clause that says they can obtain information about you from anybody they want.

And on this side, any company that uses these Squaliforme enablers better not show up in this Court.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

They're working hard to keep this one quiet

Creditoris Squaliformes Majoris Bank of America and Wachovia are doing their best to keep this one out from under the major news media radar, but as of last week, a few news outlets decided to live with the possibility of reduced advertising revenue and ran with the story. Along with some smaller institutions PMC Financial Services and Commerce Bank) they are worried this one might expose the shady relationships that leak confidential information about people if the right palms are crossed.

Turns out, for the last several years, a skip-tracer/detective in New Jersey has been using his contacts at the above-mentioned Squaliformes banks to get information for his collection-company and law firm clients. Well, to use modern reactionary slang, DUH!?!?

One banking-publication columnist expressed shock and dismay. Puhleeeze. Spare me the surprise act.

The perpetrator, who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, is one Orazio Lembo Jr., a thirty-five year old scammer who made millions from his clients and paid about $10 for each of the bank records he got from less than ten employees at the banks - and we're not talking low-level tellers; the perps are management employees. Obviously, for him to make that much money, the law firms and collections companies paid Lembo a lot more than that to get information they knew they couldn't acquire legally.

Even an employee at the New Jersey Department of Labor got caught up in the net.

B of A had a spokesperson claiming that only about 75 persons were "affected" and had been notified.

Bovine Scatology. That's the only ones they know about or are willing to admit to. This thing has been going on for four years which means they haven't got a clue as to how many people were "affected." Somewhere out there on dozens, maybe hundreds of shady, underhanded, low-life data miners' computers are these records and variants of them.

Information about everyone doing business with Creditoris Squaliformes is bought and sold, almost instantly. More than one time. It is re-sold over and over again on the ever-growing gray and black market for such things.

The Creditoris Squaliformes industry would have everyone believe these kinds of situations are rare. But they know they aren't. For every Lembo who gets caught, there are dozens like him and hundreds of less-detectable, lower-grade schemers with their insider contacts. And they share with others like themselves to exchange valuable information about people.

The Squaliformes will dance to the tune of their PR firms and carefully avoid taking responsibility for these leaks, knowing full well there isn't a damn thing they can do about a determined snoop with a bankroll from collections companies and their law firms.

Life on the other side of the Pecos is interesting for folks. Over here we'd just hang Lembo and the slimeball lawyers and collectors, toss the bank employees in prison for 30 years, their bosses in for 10 and get on with life - in private.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

As if y'all didn't have enough to worry about

The Squaliformes and their pardners in the collections industry are getting more and more creative all the time, and with all the news about the techno-geek scammers lurking on the Internet, the really creative Echeneidae Collectoris are emulating the hackers and phishers.

Take the example of "John," who got tired of telemarketing calls, took the time to get on the "do not call" list, changed his phone to unlisted and when that didn't stop harassment from a collector, he disconnected the phone and like many people today, simply uses his cell phone.

For the collectors and skip tracers, this is a problem. Well, not for all of them. If they don't have a willing insider in the phone company (and many do), a little cooperation from some of the more helpful credit card issuers can get him the email addresses of the customers who had registered on the card company's web site. But rather than open up the can of worms revealing or using that supposedly "confidential" information, the collector involved had concocted a "phishing" email message that notified the customer that his credit card information needed to be validated by clicking on a URL that looked like it was the card company, but it actually went to a site set up by the collector.

Among the information requested in order to have someone actually call to assure the card was still safe was a phone number and a best time to call. In fact, the message said that this couldn't be done securely via email so it was imperative that he provide a phone number so someone from the card company could call him.

It worked. He dutifully filled out the contact information (they already had his card number, of course), and within a day he got a call - from the collection firm he had told to never call again.

Echeneidae Collectoris is indeed cunning.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Exposing yet another enabler

Lurking under the radar of most consumers is yet another company routinely gathering information about everyone and selling it.

Well, not quite everyone anymore. At least not the citizens of the State of Utah.

Now - for a bit of clarification in case someone goes looking: The data snoop-and-sell perpetrator operates under something called "Explore Information Services," but that is a dba for "Robot Aided Manufacturing Center, Inc.," which is actually part of The Schwan Food Company.

For the more curious, the gory details of the particular case can be found here:


But to save time, this Court would like everyone to be aware of what this company is and what they do. Excerpted from the background of the case:

Explore is a Minnesota corporation, registered to do business in the State of Utah. As part of its business, Explore obtains driving record information contained within the motor vehicle records of various states and provides it to insurance companies for underwriting, rating, and claims investigating purposes. Pursuant to an agreement between Explore and the Utah Department of Public Safety's Driver License Division (the Division), which agreement has expired, Explore had received information concerning Utah drivers from the Division, on a monthly basis, since December 1996. The information Explore received was a list of all licensed Utah drivers who had received moving vehicle citations that were reported to the Division during the prior month. The information Explore received included a person's name, driver license number, date of birth, type of driving violation, and the date when the violation was recorded in the Division's database.(1) Explore would then match the names of those individuals reported for violations with names of individuals insured by the various insurance companies to whom Explore provides its services. The district court noted in its findings of fact that, through these reports, Explore obtained the identities of, and information about, 21,726 individuals in June of 2000, and 22,932 in July of 2000. The court also noted that Explore only successfully matches, on average, about 2% of those individuals reported with persons actually insured with the various insurance companies for which Explore works. In other words, 2% of what Explore learns as a kind of busy-body for hire is properly its business, while 98% is not.

Kudos to the Utah Judiciary on this one! As well as the bureaucrats who had the nerve to stand up to the snoops in the first place.

And Schwan's trucks are hereby banned on this side of the Pecos.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Blogger Blocking Banditos Beaten

It would appear certain miscreants being exposed here brought about a lower-than-a-snake's-belly response and got someone to prevent further revelations; but what would one expect?

For weeks, the blog has been locked out by the mysterious and supposedly unfixable problem of having the password changed without this Court's knowledge, let alone approval.

Then the games begin. Now, after many emails and finally taking the time (and paying) to have a lawsuit prepared for filing in US District Court, blogger.com magically restores the original password - which they said couldn't be done!

Needless to say the backlog of cases is significant - bear with the Court while I hunt down the Clerk we released on vacation while all this was going on.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.